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Imperative or Interrogative Sentence?

 
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Vladz



Joined: 13 Apr 2005
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2005 2:47 am    Post subject: Imperative or Interrogative Sentence? Reply with quote

How do you consider the asking for permission sentences such as “May I go out?” “Could you please pass your paper?” and “Would you mind closing the door?” as imperative or interrogative sentence?

I had asked some of my colleagues and gave me different answers. Somebody told me that those are interrogative simply because it ends with a question mark, just like imperative sentence becomes a exclamatory sentence once it ends with an exclamation mark. However, another teacher contradicts the idea saying that the structure might be interrogative but the intention is imperative.

Please guide me by indicating your sources or references in answering my question. Thank you very much.
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pikawicca



Joined: 09 Jun 2004
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2005 9:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your example is an imperative whose form happens to be that of an interrogative. An imperative is a structure whose main purpose is to issue a directive. I refer you to "A Student's Introduction to English Grammar" by Huddleston and Pullman (Cambridge 2005).
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sbourque



Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 158
Location: USA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although "May I go out?" is an interrogative, asking for permission.
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Kruddler



Joined: 12 Jan 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2006 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The semantic content of a sentence is the meaning of the sentence. So according to semantics the sentence in question is an imperative. However syntax relates to the grammar of the sentence. In a syntactical sense the sentence is a interrogative sentence.

This issue is over a broader issue. Do punctuation marks obey syntax, or do they obey semantics?

This is a very interesting question and I would like to here what the prevailing English usage guides have to say about this. Does anyone have any information on this?
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Superhal



Joined: 20 Feb 2005
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Imho, it's either a command (imperative) or a question (interrogative.) For a command, the outcome is decided, merely the form of the sentence is different. In the case of the paper or the door, these are commands phrased politely. The opposite of a command would be a request, e.g. "Could I have a piece of paper," or "Do you have any paper I could borrow?" The going out question would be asking for permission, which is different.

For an interrogative, the speaker is asking for information, e.g.:
When can I go out?
Why can't I have a piece of paper?

Also, the punctuation of any of the forms above is irrelevant, imho. A command is a command, a question is a question, a request is a request by their very nature. The rule of thumb I use is what is the usual result? If the usual result is predictable and consistent, then that's what it is, even if it sounds funny or has unusual punctuation. For example:

S1: You smoke?
S2. Yes/No, I do/don't.

S1: You smoke, don't you.
S2: Yes/No. I do/don't.
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Kruddler



Joined: 12 Jan 2006
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2006 6:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That doesn't clear anything up. We already established the fact that the sentence is "it's either a command (imperative) or a question (interrogative.)". But as I stated, it is an imperative by semantics and interrogative by syntax. The question was "Do punctuation marks obey syntax, or do they obey semantics?"

Quote:
the punctuation of any of the forms above is irrelevant, imho. A command is a command, a question is a question, a request is a request by their very nature.


Well if this is the case then why would you even answer the question?

Quote:
S1: You smoke, don't you.
S2: Yes/No. I do/don't.


The above is a tag question. Are you claiming that tag questions don't deserve question marks?
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lelo



Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I vote semantics...

that is the direction that the language is changing anyway. Isn't it?


SAT Vocab in Music
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